Teachers at a D.C. charter school are pushing to unionize, citing the need to provide more resources for students, improve the school’s culture and reduce churn in the teaching force.
About three quarters of the staff at Paul Public Charter School in Northwest signed a petition asking the school’s governing board to recognize their union, the District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff.
The effort aims to launch what would be the first teachers union at a D.C. charter school, according to the American Federation of Teachers.
School officials did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment. Paul had 676 students in 2015-16 at the middle and high school levels.
Most charter schools operate without a union because advocates say that allows them to experiment with teacher pay and work schedules. But some charters are unionizing. The AFT said it represents teachers at 229 charter schools in 15 states.
“Constructive relationships between teachers and management in union charter schools are a key to safe, welcoming environments for students,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.
David Koenig, Paul’s social studies department chair, said teachers want to have a “strong voice in trying to make the school better.” He said the school has a high turnover rate among staff, and teachers want to provide more input on how to improve conditions in the school without fear of retribution.
“We want this to be seen as a completely positive thing that we are doing because we love our school and we love our kids,” Koenig said.